Our accomodation didn’t have breakfast so we set off to find some. This is the off season and start of the monsoon season on the Southern coast – which is why we are heading to the beach on the East coast, where it is the high season. Being low season a lot of places were closed and things felt a bit quiet. But it didn’t stop us going to a Deli France for coffee and croissants. Revived it was time to walk the streets of the fort.
The Galle fort has been a stronghold of the usual suspects the Portuguese, the Dutch and the the English. The Dutch and English influence remain quite apparent. Around the square the magistrates court was buzzing with queues of petitioners, lawyers and probably gallery also. There was a very British feel with lawyers in suits, people holding case notes and the multitude of advocates offices around the square. These offices were teeming with people getting advice.
The town itself was atmospheric and there was a large range of architectural styles reflecting both the historic and religious influences. In Andrew’s readings he noted that a large number of buildings had been purchased by wealthy locals returning to Sri Lanka or as investments by Indians. It certainly has resulted in a large amount of restoration work in-progress and completed. Andrew particularly liked the number of houses around hidden courtyards, woodworking and street art. He even went as far as to suggest the painted power poles we saw wouldn’t look bad in Rankin St.
Around lunch time we walked out of the fort back to the new town. Primarily it was a mission to double check bus and train options back to Colombo. It ended up being a place to go to Joe’s pub at the Sydney hotel, and have a cheap beer. 130 rupees vs 300 or 400 in the old town. It was an old style pub which had a drinks board where gin & tonic options took up one quarter of the list. Suitably rehydrated we carried on to the Old Railway cafe, run by a British expat designer. A really nice cafe lunch and then back to the old town.
Along the way we saw the fishermen selling the remains of their catch and walked back in via the ‘new’ gate.
Our destination for the afternoon was the Martime Museum of archeology. It was rebuilt after the 2004 tsunami, in a converted Dutch warehouse. Some of the items painstakingly retrieved from various shipwrecks had been somewhat involuntarily returned to the seabed during the tsunami. Being on a main shipping route there were a number of wrecks which had offered up their shipwreck bounty, and apparently there is still plenty of scope for further explorations.
In the early evening we completed our walk on the ramparts before climbing to the 3rd floor of a local restaurant for a good Sri Lankan rice and curry.